The head of the largest hospital system in North Texas said Tuesday its intensive care beds could be “maxed out” in one week.
"We're at the highest level of patients we've seen since this pandemic started,” said Texas Health Resources chief executive Barclay Berdan.
He said patient counts at his facilities are up 75% since July.
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And most startling, hospital beds are nearly full.
"Unless something changes, we'll begin to max out on our standard ICU bed capacity in a week or so," Berdan said.
He said they can convert places like recovery rooms into intensive care centers.
But the problem isn't beds, he said. It’s staffing.
Texas Health has 23,000 employees working in 27 hospitals in North Texas.
But Berdan said it's not enough -- even with hundreds more medical workers coming in from across the state to help out.
"The bottom line is people are very exhausted and tired,” Berdan said. “And they're asking me, why won't the community help us out?"
He worries with families getting together for the holidays, the numbers will soar even higher.
"The only thing that can help us is if residents of North Texas follow the preventative guidelines to a greater degree than they have,” he said.
He was candid about what may happen if the trends don’t reverse course.
"What I really worry about are the people who are not going to survive," he said.
On a more positive note, Berdan said Texas Health was ready to start receiving vaccines to give to its front-line workers.
The hospitals have agreed to store the vaccines in freezers until they are formally approved, and then the process of injecting employees could begin immediately.
That could happen as early as mid-December, Berdan said.
He cautioned the number of vaccines will be limited and won’t be widely available until well into next year.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.